I agree with my fellow reviewers in that this was one of the best movies of the summer. I was initially surprised by the low budget feel of District 9. Peter Jackson’s movies have been, up to this point, large on special effects (and money). This is a definite stylistic departure for the master cinematographer who gave us Lord of the Rings, the new King Kong, and The Frighteners. The filming style strongly reminded me of such earlier movies as 28 Days Later and Cloverfield. However, the low budget perspective served the movie well, offering a grittiness and realism that lent greater impact to the themes presented in the movie.
District 9 is the story of apartheid told through an alien filter. The true genius of this movie was in getting us to take a fresh look at human rights issues and ethics in a format that most will find easier to receive and digest. I have a friend who grew up in South Africa. He loved District 9, claiming it reminded him of home. He tells me the people and culture presented in the movie are very true to life and the situation that existed in District 9 was strongly reminiscent of a similar situation that existed in District 6, a black slum town that existed in Apartheid ruled South Africa.
The way the aliens in District 9 are treated is no different than we have treated our fellow humans throughout history (and still treat them in certain places throughout the world to this day). In District 9, the prevailing human prejudice holds that the aliens are not worthy of better treatment because they are worker drones, lesser beings, who are unable or unwilling to live at a higher standard. Such claims have been used as an excuse for holding down other human cultures for millennia. While many of the aliens do seem willing to lower themselves to the expectations of others, we find that this is not necessarily their true state as we come to meet an alien fully capable of using his brain and determined to rescue his people from the decadent and depraved lifestyle they have been forced into. The anti-hero of the movie, Wikus, serves excellently as a means of connecting us to both the human and alien points of view as we see him forced to modify his preconceptions throughout the film.
My only complaint was that the movie was so focused that you missed certain wider perspectives that would’ve added even more color and realism to the story. District 9 reveals only the thoughts, feelings and actions of a small portion of the South African city, Johannesburg. Surely first contact with an alien race and their extraordinary technology would be an event that would draw the attention and action of the entire world. The international scientific community would be swarming the scene, investigating the aliens and dissecting the technology. However, it seems that South Africans are the only ones who have taken any interest in this amazing phenomenon.
Despite Tony’s claims, I am excited by the idea of a potential sequel. The end of the movies certainly leaves this possibility wide open. I can only hope that many of the unanswered questions and wider perspectives lacking in District 9 will be dealt with in a sequel.
I give “District 9” 4 out of 5 Babbles.